An analysis of Disgrace's representation of sexual violence exposes the inextricability of the social categories of gender, class, and race insofar as these identities are shown to accrue meaning in relation to one another rather than a posteriori. Specifically, the novel demonstrates that rape is not primarily a gendered crime that is then complicated by considerations of race or class, but a deeply discursive phenomenon whose material consequences are constituted by the profoundly racialized and class-based discourses that give it meaning. This paper shows how the discrepancy between the responses to the two rapes in the novel is only naturalized when insufficient attention is paid to the workings of narration, narrative, and racial politics. Coetzee's book exposes not just the contingency of justice but also the deeply racialized nature of this contingency, whether the response to rape occurs in black South Africa or in the white liberal context of the university.


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pp. 72-83
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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